You might have heard of DJRX, a staple performer in the Athens’ EDM scene and a headliner at this year’s 23rd annual AthFest Music and Arts Festival.
But Brian Gonzalez is a name that’s less well-known. He’s a licensed pharmacist, a 1997 alumus of the University of Georgia’s College of Pharmacy and the man behind the mixer.
The stage name is a subtle nod to Gonzalez’s pharmacy background, as Rx is a common abbreviation used in medical prescriptions. Starting in the fall of 2018, Gonzalez decided to take a break from working as a pharmacist to focus solely on his work as a DJ.
“Right now, I’m just enjoying being creative,” he said.
Gonzalez got his start in the music business years before he graduated pharmacy school, when he snuck into an Atlanta nightclub and befriended the DJ.
When he started DJing on his own, Gonzalez wrote and performed original raps. He went by the stage name Brian “G” because it was easier to rhyme with than Gonzalez.
He decided to rebrand to DJRX once he started working the EDM rave scene so he wouldn’t be associated with the pop mixes he previously created.
A musical journey
Today, Gonzalez focuses on delivering musically diverse, visually appealing shows. He started incorporating video content in 2011 as part of an emerging format of DJing that seeks to engage the eyes and the ears.
While at a DJRX show, the audience not only hears the music but also watches original videos featuring iconic pop culture clips that play simultaneously.
Gonzalez uses video content from music videos, live performances, motion pictures, television shows, sporting events and more, according to the DJRX website.
An influential moment in his decision to become a video DJ occurred during a football game at Sanford Stadium, when a video clip from a past football game played on the big screen.
“Everybody stopped what they were doing, and I noticed that,” said Gonzalez. “It didn’t matter if they were little kids. It didn’t matter if they were 60 or 70 years old … and it was like an epiphany to me.”
Gonzalez believes videos can bridge generational divides in music. If he puts a contemporary song to a clip from a classic movie, one generation might appreciate another’s art.
As an example, Gonzalez is currently working on using a clip from the film “Scarface” with artist Billie Eilish’s hit “Bad Guy” that features a common line.
“I love taking something you don’t think of [as] music and making it musical,” Gonzalez said.
DJRX’s sets feature music spanning multiple genres and decades, a result of the wide variety of venues Gonzalez played as a rookie performer.
“I’ve always tried to go to different places and expose myself to different things and take a little bit from here and there,” Gonzalez said.
DJRX has performed at Jerzees Bar in downtown Athens on multiple occasions.
“[DJing] is an artform, it’s a skill, and he’s honed that skill very well,” said Mitch Jordan, the owner of Jerzees.
Back at AthFest
This won’t be Gonzalez’s first time at AthFest, as he performed in the festival in 2008 and 2011. But the 8-year gap is sure to make this set different from years past.
Gonzalez still gets a thrill every time someone knows about his work or wants to book him for a show, and the opportunity to perform at AthFest 2019 is no exception.
“I’m always excited because it makes you feel like you’re part of the fabric of this town,” Gonzalez said. “And I love this town.”
While some DJs pre-record their sets, Gonzalez still prefers to mix his sets live. He feels like this allows him to tailor what he’s going to play to best suit the individual audience.
“I’m determining what I’m going to play based on the [crowd’s] reaction,” Gonzalez said. “I look out there, and I say, ‘Did the energy go up? Did the energy go down?’”
As for what people take away from his performance, he hopes that they’ll appreciate the diversity of the music he uses and are kept on their toes, guessing what he’ll play next.
“Man, I don’t know what I’d do with myself [without DJing],” Gonzalez said. “I can’t imagine not doing it because I love it.”